Fernandes Ravelle Deluxe Electric Guitar

Ian Harper plays guitar with ‘Feud’ an alternative/rock band and I was well and truly impressed with the looks of his wine red Fernandes Ravelle Deluxe electric guitar when I went to see them play recently. I was also blown away by the band’s music and the amazing sound of the guitar and Ian’s impressive and original playing.   

Image of Fernandes Ravelle Deluxe Electric Guitar

Fernandes Ravelle Deluxe Electric Guitar

The Fernandes company was founded in Japan in 1969 as Saito Musical Instruments and it was registered as ‘Fernandes’ in 1972. Originally manufacturing flamenco guitars, the company expanded production over the years to include electric guitars, bass guitars, amplifiers and accessories. Today it is one of the most famous of the Japanese guitar manufacturers and is noted for the interesting shapes and the high quality of their guitars.

Ian’s Fernandes Ravelle Deluxe is no exception. The Ravelle’s ‘modern-classic’ trademark shape is both unique and appealing and the wine red colour looks deep and rich.  Ian bought the guitar new in 2005 from MB Music for £700 and it came with a hard case which has done its job well – though the Fernandes is eight years old, it looks like it has just been carried out of the shop.

The body is made of mahogany with a maple top so the tone is warm but with a bright ‘edge’ that helps it project well. Ian describes the tone as ‘articulate’ and says that you: ‘can hear each individual string ring out when you strike a chord’. I would certainly agree with that analysis and his sound is fat, clear and cuts through the mix well, especially when needed for solos. The clean sounds are full and ‘chime’ well and using a combination of the outer single coil and the bridge pickup brings out the best in the clean and slightly overdriven sounds that Ian favours for the band’s style of music.

The set neck is made of mahogany with an ebony fretboard and abalone trapezoidal fret markers. It has 22 jumbo frets and joins the body at the 16th fret. Access to the frets at the ‘dusty end’ is very good.

The guitar was originally fitted with Grover tuners but Ian has recently changed these to Sperzel locking tuners for improved tuning stability and he says the change has certainly achieved his aim. The bridge is the stock Fernandes ‘Tune-o-matic’. Ian’s choice of strings are D’Addario 10s and he uses Jim Dunlop 0.73 mm picks. He has never broken a string during a gig with the guitar and it has never let him down. Amazingly, it has only needed one setup in eight years and that was only because he changed the gauge of strings he was using.

The guitar came fitted with Seymour Duncan pickups (JB in the bridge, ’59 in the neck) which worked fine but Ian felt they didn’t match well with the amplifier he was using at that time so he changed them to EMG pickups (81 in the bridge, 85 in the neck) and switched the electrics to two volume controls instead of the stock one volume and one tone control. This sound sat better with the style of music the band were playing at that time but as the band has evolved, Ian has needed a fuller sound and more versatility from the guitar so he has swapped the EMGs for a set of matched Bareknuckle Aftermath pickups. He has also added a three-way toggle switch to give him the ability to change the neck pickup from inner single coil – to humbucker – to outer single coil. To top it all, he has rewired the electrics in the classic Les Paul ‘master volume’ configuration that was used widely in the 50’s and that has become popular again recently.

Image of Ian Harper's Customised Fernandes Ravelle Deluxe Electric Guitar

Fernandes Ravelle Deluxe Electric Guitar

The Fernandes has a great neck with an excellent action and the guitar is well-balanced overall.  The position of the volume knobs are comfortable but out of the way so they do not get knocked during playing so Ian has positioned the three-way toggle switch there as well. To finish the overall looks, he has replaced the bell-style knobs with Telecaster-style black knobs that look really cool set against the deep wine coloured body.

Ian uses an ‘Orange’ TH30 Head with a Marshall 1960A Cab loaded with a mix of Celestion G75’s and Vintage 30’s. For some smaller gigs, uses a Marshall 6101 30th Anniversary combo with a Line 6 M13 in the effects loop used purely for modulation and midi channel switching. His other gigging guitar is a PRS CE 24.

His pedal board consists of: Boss Tuner -> Mooer Hustle Drive -> Bright Onion channel switcher with effects loop switch. The effects loop is configured: EQ (auto switched on gain channel from Bright Onion pedal) -> Dual Looper: Loop 1: Mooer Phase 90 clone – Loop 2 -> ZVex SHO clone & Marshall Delay for solos -> ISP Decimator.

Ian originally took an interest in the Fernandes Ravelle Deluxe when he saw the guitar being used by guitarists Dave Kushner (Velvet Revolver) and Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction) and the looks and sound caught his attention immediately. He checked the guitar out online but couldn’t find many reviews but those he did read were all positive and they impressed him enough to go and try one out. A quick play convinced him that it was the right guitar for him and the deal was done.

Having played it for eight years he was hard pressed when I asked him, to find any fault with the guitar, especially now he has customised it to his own specification. Like a Les Paul though, he does acknowledge that the guitar is very heavy but that is one of the factors in creating the fat tone and sustain that he loves. He says the weight is worth it for the quality, playability and the versatility of the sounds he can get – which meet all of his needs in one guitar.

Feud’s latest single, which features Ian playing the Fernandes, is due to be released on the 26th July. Check it out on their website.